Monday, June 23, 2014

Sacred Grove, 6/21/14

“I am sitting in the Sacred Grove, in Palmyra, New York (where there are many mosquitos, which I am going to do my best to ignore). Somewhere in this wooded area, the story goes, a confused teenager came to pray, in the faith that God would provide an answer to his confusion. And according to the story, God did, although the answer was not one that the teenager had anticipated. Furthermore, the story continues, the teenager discovered that not everyone approved of the answer he believed he had received; some people, in fact, were very emphatic about expressing their disagreement.

“As I sit here remembering that story, I am mindful of the ongoing controversy around Kate Kelly and John Dehlin. And I’m mindful, especially, of individuals for whom that controversy may be occasioning a crisis of faith or identity—people who may be wondering if there is a place for them in the LDS Church; and if not, where do they go from here?

“For what it may be worth, I would like to reach out to people in that situation by offering my testimony of the principle taught by the story of the Sacred Grove. At the end of the story as told in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith draws an explicit moral from the story, which is, he says, that anyone who lacks wisdom can ask of God and receive. I would like to add my witness to that affirmation, based on my own life’s experience.

“When push comes to shove, every one of us has to decide for ourselves what to believe, or who to believe, or who to follow, or who to stand with, who to trust. We have to make that decision for ourselves; but as we make that choice, we can receive guidance from God through personal revelation. That guidance may not come on the timetable that we would like. It may not come in the ways we would have expected. The answer might not be what we had hoped for. Our understanding of the answer might evolve over time as we learn by experience and grow in further light and knowledge. Living in keeping with the answer we receive may be difficult. It may seriously disrupt our status quo. It may strain our relationships with people we love who cannot accept the answer that we believe we have received, and who may urge us not to trust our personal revelation.

“Seeking your answer, and living your answer, can feel very lonely. But the good news is that we are never actually alone. The scriptures promise us that everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who seeks will find. Everyone who knocks… will have a door opened to them, even if it wasn’t the door you had hoped for. I have faith in that promise because I believe I have seen it fulfilled in my own life.

“That is my testimony from the Sacred Grove. May God be with you—God will be with you—as you seek answers in your own Sacred Grove. In Christ’s name, amen.”

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